Well, it's been fun. Nearly three years with the West Fargo Pioneer and more than six-and-a-half years with Forum Communications Co. overall, and I'm heading off on a new path. Other than stints in retail and concrete work, the newspaper business is all I know. Interviews, reporting, writing, editing, deadlines - the whole works. But you know what they say about opportunity knocking. In a somewhat serendipitous turn of events, I've found myself heading in a fresh, fascinating direction that involves a field of work near and dear to my heart.
When Troop 225 Boy Scout Brandon Duenow decided to tackle the West Fargo Police Department's project earlier this summer, he didn't really realize just how much work it would be. But after weeks of construction and wrangling roughly 25 family members, friends and neighbors, the 16-year-old could calculate exactly how long: 341.5 hours. The end result for all that sweat and toil was a complete set of dog training obstacles for the WFPD's lone K-9 unit; a critical weapon in the department's fight against crime.
My dog's breeder, Jeff Jalbert of Top Shelf Kennels in Horace, gave me a sideways glance as he set down his Busch Light on the polished wooden bar that wrapped along the south wing of Stiklestad Lodge near Fort Ransom, N.D.
Scott Schiller and Jeremy Johnson made big names for themselves as Packers in wrestling and hockey, respectively. Now graduated, the two former West Fargo standouts have continued their winning ways. Schiller finished his redshirt freshman season 26-4 overall at the University of Minnesota. In early June, Schiller traveled with Team USA to Petenk, Guatemala, to take part in the Pan American Junior Championships.
A proposed West Fargo aquatics facility needed one more vote of approval to move forward with a feasibility study. That vote came Monday. The West Fargo School Board unanimously approved an equal split of the $60,000 cost of commissioning a feasibility study for a community center and aquatics facility. The board previously participated in a joint meeting with the city and park district in February, when a memorandum of understanding originally was adopted.
West Fargo Public Schools is losing more than four centuries of experience. Twenty teachers and classified staff are retiring from the West Fargo School District, taking a combined 404 years of employment with them. Several retirees had been with the district for more than 20 years, but one in particular left the longest tenure. Dawn Benson began her career with the West Fargo school district in September 1976.
The Red River Valley Chapter of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) is offering a unique opportunity for area youths. The Fargo-based club's first annual Youth Hunt and Outdoors Day will be held Saturday, Aug. 11, approximately 30 miles west of Fargo at Section 17 Hunting Preserve near Buffalo, N.D. Registration is limited to youth (up to age 16) who have successfully completed their state-issued hunter education course. The day will be capped at 20 participants on a first-come, first serve basis.
Area motorcycle enthusiasts may want to polish up their hogs for a special event this weekend. On Saturday, rain or shine, the 13th Annual Miracle Ride takes place at Fargo Harley-Davidson, 600 Main Avenue West in West Fargo. All proceeds benefit the Sanford Children's Hospital through the Children's Miracle Network. "I truly believe they do perform some miracles up there," said David Paulson, owner of Dave's West Fargo Tire and Service Center and the coordinator of the event.
A few weeks into their season, and the West Fargo American Legion baseball team already is coming together. Not surprising, seeing as most of the Patriots are just coming off a state-championship year with the West Fargo High School baseball team. "It's a group that is used to playing under pressure and having lots of success," coach Bill Ibach said.
Two incumbents and a newcomer - who really isn't all that new - were elected last Tuesday to four-year terms with the West Fargo School Board. Jeff Shirley, who last sat on the board in 2003, and incumbents Kay Kiefer and Patti Stedman were picked out of a pool of five candidates, and will assume their posts later this summer. Kiefer led the way with 3,783 votes or 23.49 percent, Shirley garnered 3,674 votes or 22.8 percent, and Stedman had 3,350 votes or 20.79 percent. Gail Flom and Shelley Treib were the other candidates.